Have you ever read ‘Keep the Alpidistra Flying’ by George Orwell? If you haven’t and plan to read, then skip this post. See you later.
I read it sometime before handing over my thesis for final review. I had already been looking for a job for about 6 months. I was feeling pretty down-beat, nowhere to hide, nowhere to go. I had until then felt properly middle-class, no expense too far beyond my means. This, I noticed, isn’t that I had plenty of money (I didn’t), it’s that I lived in a blissful life where I needn’t what I couldn’t have and was wise to not go after materialistic stuff I wanted. Theroux said that a man is as poor as many things he needs in his life. Well, I was rich! I didn’t need anything. Sure, I had to eat, but my family provided most of my meals, and I was never shy of skipping one or two meals if I failed to find enough coins inside my trousers’ pocket. An empty stomach’s roar is mighty, but surmountable to an extent.
Fatefully, I started to need money. One day I would be with my girlfriend in the subway giving a coin to an homeless man needing it more than me. The next day we were both unemployed, she having to maintain a rented apartment, me going to multiple interviews and failing miserably in every single one. Money started to run out to take her to eat away, to go to the movies, to stop thinking about money.
That takes us to George Orwell. In this book, Orwell tells the story of a man who had been nurtured by his family as the vessel of hopes for a better life. His father worked to his death believing that all sacrifices made to educate his son would be fruitful, and that his son would fulfill the family’s hopes. His mother the same. The sister, always obliging, understood why she had to fade away working from sunrise to sunset, while her brother was at school only studying the barely essential to remain there, despising his own family and his upbringing in the meantime. The young boy turned into a young man and took a job that his family got for him, only to after a while quitting it, breaking his family’s heart. He didn’t want that life, he wanted to write, to be creative. He had been published, he had shown literary potential. And so, he quit and got a lousy job as a bookshop keeper where the pay was miserable. His life quickly deteriorated, not without the young man borrowing from his enslaved sister who had never got the opportunities of her brother and so had to work, to live lonely and lose any bit of beauty, that she never had.
Gordon Comstock, the name of the young man, despised money and yet thought about it, let his thoughts be controlled by the shining gold. I won’t tell much more of the story. I’ll only tell something I took from it. I, like so many millions of people before me, want to get in my car and go travel the world. I want to lose the feeling of thought, I want to wander to the unknown. I want it. I’m not there yet. I feel I have to build an empire to not have to worry about bread on the table. I want to be able to help those who helped me. I’m just not there yet.